So, my dears, what do you say about these stays (NM.0001007)? Just by looking at it, which date would you give it? My first reaction was late 17th century. The shoulder straps are set so far out and angled so they must have rested at the shoulder joint, which is more of the fashion of the late 17th century than the 18th. Shoulder straps on stays usually seem to be placed just inside the neckline, not several centimeters away. The front also seems to mimic the late 17th century. What do you say?
The stays are part of the collection at the museum Nordiska in Stockholm. Made of chamois leather with lining in coarse linen. Much mended with linen in various qualities. Boned with whalebones, the Swedish say helt försett”, which indicate that it’s fully bones. Enforced with sturdier whalebones around the waist and across the bust. Cut with a front that narrows down to a point and is laced in the back. The shoulder straps are sewn to the back and tied to the front. There are traces of silk at the seams on the inside, which may indicate that this was originally a bodice in silk that has been covered with chamois leather.
The stays came to the museum in 1873 and it is noted that it used to belong to a “mamsell” Groth who died in the early 1830’s in Uppsala, almost a 100 years old. Her father was tied to the cathedral in Uppsala and she had a pension.
“Mamsell” was used as an honorific for unmarried women of the middle classes in Sweden until the 1860’s, (Miss was just for nobility), so this lady was clearly middle class and probably not too short of money. The museum dates the stays to 1750-1770, but I feel pretty certain that it’s wrong. Even if the stays belonged to mamsell Groth, they may not have been worn by her, or she inherited them. They have evidently been worn a lot. One possibility is that it is a late 17th century boned bodice that have been converted into stays during the 18th century, but that may have been done earlier as well. Regardless of when, the stays are intriguing and I’d love to hear your opinion on it. Unfortunately there are no more pictures- I would love to see the back and the inside.